New murder charge laid against Pickton

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

VANCOUVER - A seventh murder charge has been laid against Robert William Pickton in Vancouver's missing women case.

The newest count accuses Pickton of the first-degree murder of Brenda Wolfe, who disappeared in early 1999 from Vancouver's downtown east side.

Wolfe, 32, wasn't reported missing until April 2000.

In February, police began searching Pickton's pig farm and the search was expanded last month to a nearby property.

A seventh murder charge has been laid against Robert William Pickton in Vancouver's missing women case.(CP)

Police investigators, who have been collecting DNA samples from family members of the missing women, have said in the past they have found human remains at the pig farm.

Police wouldn't say what evidence led them to lay the latest charge against Pickton, nor would Vancouver police Det. Scott Driemel say whether DNA was found.

Driemel said police are finalizing the hiring of about 50 specialists in human osteology, a branch of archeology.

"The individuals who will be hired for a period ranging from a few months to a year come from the academic and science community in Canada,'' Driemel said.

They start work in the next few weeks.

Driemel wouldn't say what the scientists would be doing and he said they have signed confidentiality agreements.

"The individuals have also been told - in very clear terms - that public disclosure about their work could result in not only them getting fired but facing charges under relevant legislation,'' Driemel said.

There are about 80 investigators working for the joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force investigating the disappearances.

Investigators originally anticipated the search at Pickton's farm would take a few months but that estimate has since increased. Officers will be at the farm for at least a year collecting evidence.

Peter Ritchie, lawyer for Robert Pickton
(CP/Richard Lam)

The women began disappearing in 1983. Thirty-nine of them have gone missing in the last six years.

Family and friends have been highly critical of the way Vancouver city police handled the disappearances prior to the RCMP joining the investigation a year ago.

Community activists have complained that because most of the women were prostitutes and addicted to drugs, they were treated as throwaways by police who ignored concerns there may be a serial killer prowling the poverty-stricken downtown eastside neighbourhood.

However, the province's solicitor general has rejected calls for an inquiry into police handling of the case while Pickton is before the courts. Many family members of the missing women complain police repeatedly turned a blind eye to the disappearances.

Pickton, 52, will begin a preliminary hearing Nov. 4, 2002. He will appear in Port Coquitlam court on the new charge tomorrow.

Six other counts of first-degree murder have been laid against Pickton in the last three months, since police began searching his farm in Port Coquitlam.

Investigators are looking for 50 women who have disappeared from Vancouver's drug-infested downtown east side in the last two decades.

Robert Pickton is also charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of:

- Mona Wilson, 26-years-old when she was last seen in November

- Serena Abotsway, 29-years-old when she disappeared in August 2001

- Jacqueline McDonell, 23-years-old when she was last seen in January 1999

- Diane Rock, 34-years-old when last seen in October 2001

- Heather Bottomley, 25-years-old when she disappeared in April 2001

- Andrea Joesbury, 22-years-old when last seen in June, 2001

 Copyright 2002 Canadian Press

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Updated: August 21, 2016